I ventured inside the abandoned village of Kayaköy and found a haunting remnant of Turkey’s bloody past.
Kayaköy was once a Greek village. It was bustling and busy, known to its inhabitants in the Greek tongue as Livissi.
The village was lived in by Anatolian Greeks, until the Greek-Turkish War of 1919-1922 swept through the region and caused destruction and havoc.
The local Greeks were forced out of Livissi. They left their homes and belongings behind them as war ravaged the country, and the governments of Greece and Turkey decided to implement a forced population exchange.
Greeks in Turkey were forced out, and Turks and Muslims in Greece were forced the other way. It was an unprecedented upheaval. Refugees were ravaged on their way to their new home lands, many wouldn’t make it, and those that did survive were destitute.
Kayaköy’s abandoned remains are a haunting reminder of this turbulent, overlooked period of Turkish and Greek history.
And this was just one village.
In all, it’s estimated that 1.5 million Greeks were forced out of Turkey, while 500,000 Muslims were relocated to Turkey.
Livissi was given the Turkish name Kayaköy and its slow decline began.
In Fethiye, along the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, I’d heard rumours of a ghostly village abandoned to the elements in a valley not far from the city.
I set out to hike there. It’s a point on the long walking route, The Lycian Way, which spreads through this ancient region of Turkey. The hike from Fethiye to Kayaköy took me 3 hours in the brutal heat. It’s only about 10 kilometres, but mostly uphill.
The trail took me through the modern, inhabited villages of the valley, but in the distance I could already make out the crumbling buildings of Kayaköy.
After an exhausting climb out of Fethiye, I reached the village, abandoned on the hillside.
It’s almost abandoned anyway. At the foot of the hill I found a Turkish pancake restaurant, and gorged on enough Gözleme to keep me going up into the ruins.
The ruins are exceptionally close to the other villages, but aside from a few enterprising restaurants catering to the few tourists that come to explore, the local Turkish population are leaving the ghosts be.
And it is a haunting experience.
The paths are overgrown, covered in weeds and rubble.
The church is still impressive but with more of a crumbling grandeur these days.
It stands amongst the ruined houses. As empty as the other abandoned buildings.
The remnants of the Greek houses have been opened by the elements.
Little remains in the village other than rubble and the haunting reminders of the events that forced the people to leave.
The buildings are packed along the hillside.
This was a sizeable village in its day.
But, history was not kind to the people who called this place home.
Even in recent years, earthquakes have levelled the abandoned village further.
After exploring ruined house after ruined house, I walked over the hill, and along the hiking trail. Leaving the ghosts of the abandoned village of Kayaköy behind me.
Where is Kayaköy?
The ruins of Kayaköy lie between the city of Fethiye and the tourist town of Ölüdeniz.
I walked the 10 kilometre trail from Fethiye, which is an extension of the Lycian Way- a 500 kilometre route across Lycia. The trail from Fethiye is well marked. To find it, simply walk up, out of town, past the Lycian rock tombs and follow the yellow signs.
From Kayaköy you can either hike back to Fethiye, or there are two paths which both carry on in different directions to Ölüdeniz and the beautiful blue lagoon, a walk of around 7 kilometres.
You can find a detailed route description for this hike HERE.
If you don’t fancy walking, then there are mini buses departing from behind the big mosque in Fethiye, on the main street. They should only cost 1 or 2 TL.